Swiss company shortlisted for Nijgadh project under Yeti Group influence

Published On: February 26, 2020 08:16 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Yeti Group is reported to be the local agent for Zurich Airport International AG

KATHMANDU, Feb 26: The decision to shortlist  Switzerland’s Zurich Airport International AG alone for developing and operating Nijgadh International Airport is found be have been taken under the influence of the Yeti Group. 

While seven companies have submitted their expressions of interest (EoI) to acquire the project,  the Investment Board of Nepal (IBN), which is chaired by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, decided last month to shortlist Zurich Airport International AG as the only company for developing/operating the much-talked-about international airport project.  

 Yeti Group is reported to be the local agent for Zurich Airport International AG, and the IBN shortlisted the Swiss company to allegedly serve the corporate interests of Yeti Group. The decision is going to bring huge financial gains for Yeti Group. The project, which was showcased during the Investment Summit 2019, is estimated to cost approximately Rs 340 billion. 

Sources inside the IBN say that the meeting of the board in September chaired by Prime Minister  Oli picked Zurich Airport as the sole company in the shortlist to ensure that the Swiss company would later land the lucrative project.

The decision to shortlist a single company for a mega project without allowing any competition was a suspicious move, according to IBN sources.  

“Other six companies were eliminated from the screening process, arguing that they do not meet the criteria, and  Zurich Airport International AG was selected although it does not have any experience of constructing an international airport in Asia,” a senior official at  IBN told Republica.  

Although  Oli rushed the contract award process in favor of the Swiss company, IBN has not been able to expedite the process due to a Supreme Court order in December to stay all the processes relating to the airport construction. The stay order came in response to a writ petition filed by some individuals over environmental concerns in view of the felling of huge swathes of forests that would be required for the airport. 

The Swiss company is in ‘wait-and-watch mode’ pending a clearing of the legal deck, said the senior IBN official.  IBN has sent the Request for Proposal (RFP) directly to the Swiss company alone. Sources say this also raises suspicions about the intentions of the Oli government. 

IBN has not only shortlisted just a single company for submitting the airport proposal, it has also prepared the expression of interest in such a way as to help qualify only Zurich Airport International AG. 

And this is not the only project in which that the Yeti Group stands to benefit from its direct connection with its late owner  Ang Tshering Sherpa.  

From leases for lands from Gokarna Resort to posh Nepal Trust property in Durbarmarg for paltry amounts to an ambassadorial posting for  Dawa Futi Sherpa, Yeti Group has emerged as a powerful corporate player thanks to its connections to Prime Minister Oli. Sherpa is chairman of Yeti Group.

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